Farmers still fighting fallout of dairy crisis

ONGOING: The dairy crisis continues to affect farmers and rural communities.
ONGOING: The dairy crisis continues to affect farmers and rural communities.

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UPDATE 6.45pm:

Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said Tuesday afternoon’s meeting with Murray Goulburn representatives was the first in a series of formal talks about building and supporting the dairy industry.

Mr Joyce said another meeting would be held next week with Fonterra’s Australian management.

A dairy symposium, to be chaired by Mr Joyce and involving representatives from the farming, processing and retail sectors will also held next week.​

EARLIER

A CENTRAL Victorian dairy farmer has made the difficult decision to sell his cows as rural communities face ongoing hardship in the wake of the dairy crisis.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce are due to meet with Murray Goulburn representatives on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the crisis and support for the co-operative’s suppliers.

Tandarra farmer John Twigg said he and his wife Wendy decided to sell their dairy cows after Murray Goulburn announced its opening price of $4.31 per kilogram milk solids in late June.

At the time of the announcement, United Dairyfarmers of Victoria president Adam Jenkins said many farmers would operate below the cost of production receiving that price.

“In our circumstances we looked at what we were doing and decided at least this year we couldn’t do it, especially coming out of a drought year,” Mr Twigg said.

They had been suppliers to the dairy co-operative for about 19 years.

Murray Goulburn has cut the price it is paying to suppliers to recoup losses incurred when it set an unsustainable milk price at the start of last financial year.

“I just hope in 12 months’ time it’s looking better for everyone, because it’s had a big impact on the community,” Mr Twigg said.

He said the crisis had had a ripple effect on the wider community, with hay and grain farmers losing business selling feed and people losing jobs as farmers cut back on labour.

This resulted in fewer children in schools as people sought work elsewhere, he said, and fewer volunteers to run the organisations and services that were vital to small rural communities.

Mr Twigg said he and his wife were now looking at their options for the future and focusing on farm improvement to put them in a more secure position when they returned to dairy.

He was not sure what, if anything, would come from the meeting between Murray Goulburn and Mr Turnbull and Mr Joyce, raising the global milk oversupply as an issue that was out of their hands.

“But anything they can do to build confidence in the industry will be good,” he said.